Current orthodoxy in the philosophy of perception views indirect realism as misguided, wrongheaded or simply outdated. The reasons for its pariah status are variegated. Although it is surely not unreasonable to speculate that philosophical fashion is one factor that contributes to this situation, there are also solid philosophical arguments which put pressure on the indirect realist position. In this paper, I will discuss one such main objection and show how the indirect realist can face it. The upshot will be (...) a defence of a new structural account of indirect realism which is immune to a number of objections that have been traditionally levelled at such theories of perceptual consciousness. (shrink)
I advocate a theory of syntactic semantics as a way of understanding how computers can think (and how the Chinese-Room-Argument objection to the Turing Test can be overcome): (1) Semantics, considered as the study of relations between symbols and meanings, can be turned into syntax – a study of relations among symbols (including meanings) – and hence syntax (i.e., symbol manipulation) can suffice for the semantical enterprise (contra Searle). (2) Semantics, considered as the process of understanding one domain (by (...) modeling it) in terms of another, can be viewed recursively: The base case of semantic understanding –understanding a domain in terms of itself – is syntactic understanding. (3) An internal (or narrow), first-person point of view makes an external (or wide), third-person point of view otiose for purposes of understanding cognition. (shrink)
There are currently two main philosophical theories of perception - Direct Realism and the Representative Theory. The former is supported by most contemporary philosophers, whereas the latter forms the groundwork for most scientific theories in this area. The paper describes a recent experiment involving retinal and cortical rivalry that provides strong empirical evidence that the Direct Realist theory is incorrect. There are of course a large number of related experiments on visual perception that would tend to lead us (...) to the same conclusion, but the experiment described in this paper does so in a singularly direct and straightforward manner. Often the most telling experiments are the simplest. (shrink)
This article examines a somewhat neglected argument for the existence of God which appeals to the divine perspective as a way of reconciling the conflicting claims of realism and anti-realism. Six representative examples are set out (Berkeley, Ferrier, T. H. Green, Josiah Royce, Gordon Clark and Michael Dummett), reasons are considered why this argument has received less attention than it might, and a brief sketch given of the most promising way in which it might be developed.
HAMILTON WORRIED THAT THERE WERE REPRESENTATIVE ELEMENTS\nIN REID'S EPISTEMOLOGY, WHILE J S MILL FLATLY CHARACTERIZED\nTHE SCOT AS A REPRESENTATIVE REALIST. I ARGUE THAT HAMILTON\nAND MILL WERE MISTAKEN AND THAT THEIR MISTAKES AROSE FROM\nAN INSUFFICIENT UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATION OF THE\nNATIVISTIC ELEMENTS OF THE UNDERSTANDING INTRODUCED BY\nREID; AND TO INSUFFICIENT AWARENESS OF REID'S\nCHARACTERIZATION OF PERCEPTION AS ACTIVE IN CONTRAST TO\nBRITISH EMPIRICIST RELIANCE ON A PASSIVELY GIVEN EPISTEMIC\nBASE. REID REJECTED EVERY VARIETY OF THE "MESSENGER"\nTHEORY.
A natural way to think of models is as abstract entities. If theories employ models to represent the world, theories traffic in abstract entities much more widely than is often assumed. This kind of thought seems to create a problem for a scientific realist approach to theories. Scientific realists claim theories should be understood literally. Do they then imply (and are they committed to) the reality of abstract entities? Or are theories simply—and incurably—false (if there are no abstract entities)? Or (...) has the very idea of literal understanding to be abandoned? Is then fictionalism towards scientific theories inevitable? This paper argues that scientific realism can happily co-exist with models qua abstracta. (shrink)
Thomas Reid thought of himself as a critic of the representative theory of perception, of what he called the ‘theory of ideas’ or ‘the ideal theory’.2 He had no kind words for that theory: “The theory of ideas, like the Trojan horse, had a specious appearance both of innocence and beauty; but if those philosophers had known that it carried in its belly death and destruction to all science and common sense, they would not have broken down their walls (...) to give it admittance.”3 Many have supposed that his opposition to the representative theory was grounded in his direct realism.4 A direct realist theory of perception holds that perception of external objects is not mediated by any mental entity whose intrinsic character licenses a move from the mental entity to the external object presented in perception. Reid himself, in an oration of 1759, delivered at graduation ceremonies over which he presided as regent and professor of philosophy at King’s College in Aberdeen, said that he did not “understand what need there is of an intermediate object for thought about something to be possible.”5 Hence, if Reid was not a direct realist, philosophers and historians would have to ask whether and to what degree Reid was what he thought himself to be. (shrink)
The core of George Orwell’s novel 1984 is a debate—if the verbal and intellectual component of an extended episode of brainwashing can properly be said to constitute a debate—, the debate between Winston Smith and O’Brien in the cells of the Ministry of Love. It is natural to read this debate as a debate between a realist (as regards the nature of truth) and an anti-realist. I offer a few representative passages from the book that demonstrate, I believe, that (...) if this is not the only possible way to understand the debate, it is one very natural way. I begin with some thoughts that passed through Winston’s mind as he was writing in his diary long before his arrest. (shrink)
In the paper I explore the relations between a relatively new and quickly expanding branch of artificial intelligence –- the automated discovery systems –- and some new views advanced in the old debate over scientific realism. I focus my attention on one such system, GELL-MANN, designed in 1990 at Wichita State University. The program's task was to analyze elementary particle data available in 1964 and formulate an hypothesis (or hypotheses) about a `hidden', more simple structure of matter, or to (...) put it in contemporary terms –- the discovery of quarks. The central thesis of my paper is that systems like GELL-MANN not only discover (or rediscover) the hidden structure of matter, but also provide independent strong evidence in favor of scientific realism about entities involved in that structure. I make an attempt to show how an argument for scientific realism about sub-microscopic entities can be constructed that would parallel Ian Hacking's `argument from coincidence' presented with respect to microscopic objects in his famous book Representing and Intervening. (shrink)
The paper discusses the version of entity realism presented by Ian Hacking in his book, Representing and Intervening. Hacking holds that an ontological form of scientific realism, entity realism, may be defended on the basis of experimental practices which involve the manipulation of unobservable entities. There is much to be said in favour of the entity realist position that Hacking defends, especially the pragmatist orientation of his approach to realism. But there are problems with the position. (...) The paper explores two issues that reflect negatively on Hacking’s version of the entity realist position. The first issue relates to the role of description in fixing the reference of theoretical terms. The second issue relates to Hacking’s claim that the argument for entity realism based on experiment is a different kind of argument from the standard argument for scientific realism based on the success of science. (shrink)
Preanalytically, we are all scientific realists. But both philosophers and scientists become uncomfortable when forced into analysis. In the case of scientists, this discomfort often arises from practical difficulties in setting out a carefully described set of objects which adequately account for the phenomena with which they are concerned. This paper offers a set of representative examples of these difficulties for contemporary physicists. These examples challenge the traditional realist vision of mature scientific activity as struggling toward an ontologically well-defined (...) world picture. They challenge antirealist alternatives as well. (shrink)
It is commonly said of modern philosophy that it introduced a representative theory of perception, a theory that places representative mental items between perceivers and ordinary physical objects. Such a theory, it has been thought, would be a form of indirect realism: we perceive objects only by means of apprehending mental entities that represent them. The moral of the story is that what began with Descartes’s revolution of basing objective truth on subjective certainty ends with Hume’s paroxysms (...) of ambivalence and skepticism in the conclusion of the ﬁrst book of the.. (shrink)
Open future is incompatible with realism about possible worlds. Since realistically conceived (concrete or abstract) possible worlds are maximal in the sense that they contain/represent the full history of a possible spacetime, past and future included, if such a world is actual now, the future is fully settled now, which rules out openness. The kind of metaphysical indeterminacy required for open future is incompatible with the kind of maximality which is built into the concept of possible worlds. The paper (...) discusses various modal realist responses and argues that they provide ersatz openness only, or they lead to incoherence, or they render the resulting theory inadequate as a theory of modality. The paper also considers various accounts of the open future, including rejection of bivalence, supervaluationism, and the ‘thin red line’ view (TRL), and claims that a version of (TRL) can avoid the incompatibility problem, but only at the cost of deflating the notion of openness. (shrink)
Recently, Kenneth Westphal has presented a highly interesting and innovative reading of Kant's critical philosophy.2 This reading continues a tradition of Kantscholarship of which, e.g., Paul Guyer's work is representative, and in which the antiidealistic potential of Kant's critical philosophy is pitted against its idealistic selfunderstanding. Much of the work in this tradition leaves matters at observing the tensions this introduces in Kant's work. But Westphal's proposed interpretation goes farther. Its attractiveness derives for the most part from the promise (...) that it permits an internal critique of Kant's transcendental idealism (TI), that is, a critique that is based on the very resources of Kantian transcendental philosophy.3 In contrast to these resources, which currently seem to go through a sort of revival in an enormous array of fields, TI is notorious for dismaying even sympathetic interpreters. How attractive and needed such an internal critique of TI would be becomes all the more patent when we place such a promise in the context of some of the contemporary discussions about TI after Allison's famous defense of it. Before directly engaging with Westphal's interpretation, I would therefore like to quickly sketch on what background it acquires its force (I). After characterizing the main features of Westphal's view (II), and supporting it in more detail by an account of Kant's theory of cognitive significance (III), I then want to review the extent of its success to present Kant as issuing an anti-skeptical argument (IV.1), or semantic views that are incompatible with TI (IV.2), or a 'proof of not merely empirical realism' (IV.3). I agree that purely idealist readings of Kant are mistaken. Westphal's.. (shrink)
Paul Churchland's philosophical work enjoys an increasing popularity. His imaginative papers on cognitive science and the philosophy of psychology are widely discussed. Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind (1979), his major book, is an important contribution to the debate on realism. Churchland provides us with the intellectual tools for constructing a unified scientific Weltanschauung. His network theory of language implies a provocative view of the relation between science and common sense. This paper contains a critical examination of (...) Churchland's network theory of language, which is the foundation of his philosophy. It is argued that the network theory should be seen as deriving its point from traditional empiricism. The network theory enables the empiricist to resist the phenomenalistic temptations inherent in his position, and to build a realist philosophy on the basis of the representative theory of perception. This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that the representative theory is presupposed by Churchland's main argument in favour of the network view. Churchland tends to conceive of himself as a naturalistic epistemologist. But the philosophical faction to which Churchland belongs is rather that of modern neo?Kantianism. (shrink)
This paper aims to improve critical realism's understanding of emergence by discussing, first, what emergence is and how it works; second, the need for a compositional account of emergence; and third, the implications of emergence for causation. It goes on to argue that the theory of emergence leads to the recognition of certain hitherto neglected similarities between real causal powers and actual causation. (edited).
In order to examine the fit between realism and science, one needs to address two issues: the unit of science question (realism about which parts of science?) and the contents of realism question (which realism about science?). Answering these questions is a matter of conceptual and empirical inquiry by way local case studies. Instead of the more ordinary abstract and global scientific realism, what we get is a doubly local scientific realism based on a (...) bottom-up strategy. Representative formulations of the former kind are in terms of the truth and reality of the posits of current science, in terms of warranted belief, in terms of mind-independent unobservable entities. Using illustrations mainly from the social sciences, doubly local scientific realism denies the global applicability of such formulations and seeks to make adjustments in their elements in response to information about local units of science: It is sufficient for a realist to give the existence of an entity (and the truth of a theory) a chance, while in some areas we may be in s position to make justified claims about actual existence (and truth). Logical inquiry-independent existence is sufficient for the social and human sciences, while mind-independence will be fine for many other domains. It should not be insisted that the theoretical posits of realist science be strict unobservables in all areas: most theoretical posits of the social sciences are idealized commonsensibles, such as elements in folk psychology. Unsurprisingly, this sort of local strategy will create space for realism that is able to accommodate larger areas of science without sacrificing traditional realist intuitions. (shrink)
This paper challenges Putnam's claim that his internal realism is a revival of Kant's empirical realism. I agree with Putnam that there are good reasons to revive Kant's rather neglected empirical realist doctrine. However, internal realism is not the way this should be done. At the center of the following discussion lies the important difference between Putman's "real within a scheme" model and Kant's assertion of the independent existence of empirical objects. The strategy for the paper is (...) as follows. I intend to first detail the real and important connections that exist between the analyses of experience offered by Putnam and Kant. These similarities should not be discounted. In fact, I think we can distinguish the two projects only if we first appreciate the conceptual overlap that naturally gives rise to the perceived union of the two programmes. I will then develop a representative response that is invoked commonly by Kantians who disagree with Putman's identification. This will be followed by a brief discussion concerning why this standard reply fails. I will conclude by canvassing a more powerful epistemological reason for dissociating the two programmes. (shrink)
Pre-analytically, we are all scientific realists. But both philosophers and scientists become uncomfortable when forced into analysis. In the case of scientists, this discomfort often arises from quite practical difficulties in setting out a carefully described set of objects and their properties which adequately account at least for the phenomena with which they and those in their research specialty are concerned. I offer a set of representative examples of these difficulties for contemporary physicists. These examples challenge the traditional realist (...) vision of mature scientific activity as struggling toward a clear and ontologically well-defined world picture. (shrink)
In this paper I call attention to the fact that Lonergan gives two radically opposed accounts of how sense perception relates us to the external world and of how we know that this relation exists. I argue that the position that Lonergan characteristically adopts is not the one implied by what is most fundamental in his theory of cognition. I describe the initial epistemic position with regard to the problem of skepticism about the external material world that is in fact (...) implied by his theory of cognition, and I sort out some confusion about various forms of direct and representative perceptual realism. The paper concludes with a critique of Lonergan’s theory of description and explanation in empirical science that makes evident the difficulties into which he is led by lack of clarity in his theory of perception. (shrink)
I discuss the design of the method of entropic inference as a general framework for reasoning under conditions of uncertainty. The main contribution of this discussion is to emphasize the pragmatic elements in the derivation. More specifically: (1) Probability theory is designed as the uniquely natural tool for representing states of incomplete information. (2) An epistemic notion of information is defined in terms of its relation to the Bayesian beliefs of ideally rational agents. (3) The method of updating from a (...) prior to a posterior probability distribution is designed through an eliminative induction process that singles out the logarithmic relative entropy as the unique tool for inference. The resulting framework includes as special cases both MaxEnt and Bayes’ rule. It therefore unifies entropic and Bayesian methods into a single general inference scheme. I find that similar pragmatic elements are an integral part of Putnam’s internal realism, of Floridi’s informational structural realism, and also of van Fraasen’s empiricist structuralism. I conclude with the conjecture that their valuable insights can be incorporated into a single coherent doctrine—an informational pragmatic realism. (shrink)
The ideas of Hans Morgenthau dominated the study of international politics in the United States for many decades. He was the leading representative of Realist international relations theory in the last century and his work remains hugely influential in the field. In this engaging and accessible new study of his work, William E. Scheuerman provides a comprehensive and illuminating introduction to Morgenthau’s ideas, and assesses their significance for political theory and international politics. Scheuerman shows Morgenthau to be an uneasy (...) Realist, uncomfortable with conventional notions of Realism and sometimes unsure whether his reflections should be grouped under its rubric. He was a powerful critic of the existing state system and defended the idea of a world state. By highlighting Morgenthau’s engagement with the leading lights of European political and legal theory, Scheuerman argues that he developed a morally demanding political ethics and an astute diagnosis of the unprecedented perils posed by nuclear weaponry. Believing that the irrationalities of US foreign policy were rooted partly in domestic factors, he sympathized with demands for radical political and social change. Scheuerman illustrates that Morgenthau’s thinking has been widely misunderstood by both disciples and critics and that it offers many challenges to contemporary Realists who discount his normative aspirations. With the advent of the cosmopolitan goal of international reform, Morgenthau’s work serves up an unsettling mix of sympathy and hard-headed skepticism which remains crucially important in the development of the field. Lucidly and persuasively written, this book will be a valuable resource for students and scholars seeking to understand the continued importance of Morgenthau’s thinking. (shrink)
This critical editorial introduction summarizes and explicates Frederick Will’s pragmatic realism and his account of the nature, assessment, and revision of cognitive and practical norms in connection with: the development of Will’s pragmatic realism, Hume’s problem of induction, the oscillations between foundationalism and coherentism, the nature of philosophical reflection, Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’, the open texture of empirical concepts, the correspondence conception of truth, Putnam’s ‘internal realism’, the redundancy theory of truth, sociology of knowledge, the governance of (...) practice by norms and the assessment and revision of norms in practice, scientific realism, the alleged independence of reason and tradition, rule-following, legal realism, ethical intuitionism and moral relativism, the regress problem (both in epistemology and in moral theory), the paradox of analysis, and culminating in Will’s account of the philosophical governance of norms. These issues are discussed in close consideration of the views of: William Alston, John Dewey, Descartes, Leibniz, Waismann, Austin, Russell, Schlick, Ayer, Richard Rorty, Michael Williams, Hempel, Carnap, Simon Blackburn, Ramsey, Strawson, Kuhn, Wilfrid Sellars, Wittgenstein, Nozick, Dretske, Quine, Barbara Herman, Hardy Jones, Marcus Singer, and Gerd Buchdahl. (shrink)
By deepening Austin’s reflections on the ‘open texture’ of empirical concepts, Frederick L. Will defends an ‘externalist’ account of mental content: as human beings we could not think, were we not in fact cognizant of a natural world structured by events and objects with identifiable and repeatable similarities and differences. I explicate and defend Will’s insight by developing a parallel critique of Kant’s and Carnap’s rejections of realism, both of whom cannot account properly for the content of experience. This (...) critique shows that Will has identified a genuinely transcendental basis for defending common-sense realism, without appeal to any high-level theory of knowledge. I then show how Will’s realism undercuts Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism, Michael Williams’ partial defense of skepticism, John Haldane’s attempt to rehabilitate Aquinas’ account of concepts, and how it augments Crispin Wright’s defense of realism. (shrink)
Moral disagreement is widely held to pose a threat for metaethical realism and objectivity. In this paper I attempt to understand how it is that moral disagreement is supposed to present a problem for metaethical realism. I do this by going through several distinct (though often related) arguments from disagreement, carefully distinguishing between them, and critically evaluating their merits. My conclusions are rather skeptical: Some of the arguments I discuss fail rather clearly. Others supply with a challenge to (...)realism, but not one we have any reason to believe realism cannot address successfully. Others beg the question against the moral realist, and yet others raise serious objections to realism, but ones that—when carefully stated—can be seen not to be essentially related to moral disagreement. Arguments based on moral disagreement itself have almost no weight, I conclude, against moral realism. (shrink)
This essay argues that the key to understanding Kant's transcendental idealism is to understand the transcendental realism with which he contrasts it. It maintains that the latter is not to be identified with a particular metaphysical thesis, but with the assumption that the proper objects of human cognitions are “objects in general” or “as such,” that is, objects considered simply qua objects of some understanding. Since this appears to conflict with Kant's own characterization of transcendental realism as the (...) view that (mistakenly) regards appearances as if they were things in themselves, the essay explicates the connection between the concepts of an object (or thing) considered as such and a thing considered as it is in itself. In light of this, it maintains that Kant's transcendental idealism is compatible with a robust empirical realism and that many of its critics are tacitly committed to a misguided transcendental realism. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to revisit the phlogiston theory to see what can be learned from it about the relationship between scientific realism, approximate truth and successful reference. It is argued that phlogiston theory did to some extent correctly describe the causal or nomological structure of the world, and that some of its central terms can be regarded as referring. However, it is concluded that the issue of whether or not theoretical terms successfully refer is not the (...) key to formulating the appropriate form of scientific realism in response to arguments from theory change, and that the case of phlogiston theory is shown to be readily accommodated by ontic structural realism. (shrink)
Radical Ontic Structural Realism (ROSR) claims that structure exists independently of objects that may instantiate it. Critics of ROSR contend that this claim is conceptually incoherent, insofar as, (i) it entails there can be relations without relata, and (ii) there is a conceptual dependence between relations and relata. In this essay I suggest that (ii) is motivated by a set-theoretic formulation of structure, and that adopting a category-theoretic formulation may provide ROSR with more support. In particular, I consider how (...) a category-theoretic formulation of structure can be developed that denies (ii), and can be made to do work in the context of formulating theories in physics. Keywords: structural realism, category theory, general relativity.. (shrink)
Stanford, in Exceeding Our Grasp , presents a powerful version of the pessimistic meta-induction. He claims that theories typically have empirically inequivalent but nonetheless well-confirmed, serious alternatives which are unconceived. This claim should be uncontroversial. But it alone is no threat to scientific realism. The threat comes from Stanford’s further crucial claim, supported by historical examples, that a theory’s unconceived alternatives are “radically distinct” from it; there is no “continuity”. A standard realist reply to the meta-induction is that past (...) failures do not imply present ones because present theories are more successful than past ones. I have preferred to emphasize that present methodology is better than past ones. Stanford’s response to the standard reply is surprisingly brief and inadequate. He defends the inference from the uncontroversial claim but not that from the crucial one. He does not show that past discontinuity implies present discontinuity. Realism survives. (shrink)
Although it has been something of a fetish for philosophers to distinguish between hallucination and illusion, the enduring problems for philosophy of perception that both phenomena present are not essentially different. Hallucination, in its pure philosophical form, is just another example of the philosopher’s penchant for considering extreme and extremely idealized cases in order to understand the ordinary. The problem that has driven much philosophical thinking about perception is the problem of how to reconcile our evident direct perceptual contact with (...) objects and properties with the equally evident fact that there is no phenomenological signal separating error and truth. “The obscure object of hallucination” offers a subtle and plausible solution to this problem and one that solves the problem generally, not just in the special case of hallucination. Johnston’s objective is to offer a theory of perception that meets two constraints: (1) that it provide an explanation of the possibility of delusive and veridical sensings that are indistinguishable from the ﬁrst-person perspective and (2) that it count as form of direct realism where this is taken to involve acquaintance with the objects of perception. Johnston uses the ﬁrst constraint to rule out disjunctivism. The second constraint is used to rule out conjunctivism, which as Johnston uses the term, includes most of the widely adopted philosophical theories of perception. Johnston also develops his own sophisticated and interesting theory of perception. In what follows, I will discuss the relation of Johnston’s theory to conjunctivism, examine one of his anti-conjunctivist arguments and ﬁnally compare Johnston’s theory with some other versions of direct realism. These topics constitute a very incomplete selection of the important issues discussed in this rich and interesting paper. I will also not disagree, in any fundamental way, with any of the central theses of Johnston’s discussion.. (shrink)
Since the demise of the Sense-Datum independent objects or events to be objects Theory and Phenomenalism in the last cenof perception; however, unlike Direct Retury, Direct Realism in the philosophy of alists, Indirect Realists take this percepperception has enjoyed a resurgence of tion to be indirect by involving a prior popularity.1 Curiously, however, although awareness of some tertium quid between there have been attempts in the literature the mind and external objects or events.3 to refute some of the arguments (...) against Idealists and Phenomenalists agree with Direct Realism, there has been, as of yet, the Indirect Realists. (shrink)
William James' Radical Empiricist essays offer a unique and powerful argument for direct realism about our perceptions of objects. This theory can be completed with some observations by Kant on the intellectual preconditions for a perceptual judgment. Finally James and Kant deliver a powerful blow to the representational theory of perception and knowledge, which applies quite broadly to theories of representation generally.
David Enoch develops, argues for, and defends Robust Realism--a strongly realist and objectivist view of ethics and normativity, according to which there are perfectly universal and objective moral truths.
This volume collects some influential essays in which Simon Blackburn, one of our leading philosophers, explores one of the most profound and fertile of philosophical problems: the way in which our judgments relate to the world. This debate has centered on realism, or the view that what we say is validated by the way things stand in the world, and a variety of oppositions to it. Prominent among the latter are expressive and projective theories, but also a relaxed pluralism (...) that discourages the view that there are substantial issues at stake. The figure of the "quasi-realist" dramatizes the difficulty of conducting these debates. Typically philosophers thinking of themselves as realists will believe that they alone can give a proper or literal account of some of our attachments--to truth, to facts, to the independent world, to knowledge and certainty. The quasi-realist challenge, developed by Blackburn in this volume, is that we can have those attachments without any metaphysic that deserves to be called realism, so that the metaphysical picture that goes with our practices is quite idle. The cases treated here include the theories of value and knowledge, modality, probability, causation, intentionality and rule-following, and explanation. A substantial new introduction has been added, drawing together some of the central themes. The essays articulate a fresh alternative to a primitive realist/anti-realist opposition, and their cumulative effect is to yield a new appreciation of the delicacy of the debate in these central areas. (shrink)
This paper defends moral realism against Sharon Street’s “Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” (this journal, 2006). I argue by separation of cases: From the assumption that a certain normative claim is true, I argue that the first horn of the dilemma is tenable for realists. Then, from the assumption that the same normative claim is false, I argue that the second horn is tenable. Either way, then, the Darwinian dilemma does not add anything to realists’ epistemic worries.
Here I first raise an argument purporting to show that Lewis’ Modal Realism ends up being completely trivial. But although I reject this line, the argument reveals how difficult it is to interpret Lewis’ thesis that possibilia “exist.” Four natural interpretations are considered, yet upon reflection, none appear entirely adequate. In particular, under the three different “concretist” interpretations of ‘exist’, Modal Realism looks insufficient for genuine ontological commitment. Whereas under the “multiverse” interpretation, Modal Realism ends up being (...) a theory of physical possibility only. I close with a related, more general dilemma for Modal Realism: Are Lewisian possibilia in the proper domain of physics or not? Since our physics aims to explain everything that exists, it seems so. Yet then the restriction to physical possibilities seems inevitable. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that aim-oriented empiricism provides decisive grounds for accepting scientific realism and rejecting instrumentalism. But it goes further than this. Aim-oriented empiricism implies that physicalism is a central part of current (conjectural) scientific knowledge. Furthermore, we can and need, I argue, to interpret fundamental physical theories as attributing necessitating physical properties to fundamental physical entities.
In this paper I present a transcendental argument based on the findings of cognitive psychology and neurophysiology which invites two conclusions: First and foremost, that a pre-condition of visual perception itself is precisely what the Aristotelian and other commonsense realists maintain, namely, the independent existence of a featured, or pre-packaged world; second, this finding, combined with other reflections, suggests that, contra McDowell and other neo-Kantians, human beings have access to things as they are in the world via non-projective perception. These (...) two conclusions taken together form the basis of Aristotelian metaphysical realism and a refutation of the neo-Kantian two-factor approach to perception. (shrink)
Working from a naïve-realist perspective, I examine first-person knowledge of one's perceptual experience. I outline a naive-realist theory of how subjects acquire knowledge of the nature of their experiences, and I argue that naive realism is compatible with moderate, substantial forms of first-person privileged access. A more general moral of my paper is that treating “success” states like seeing as genuine mental states does not break up the dynamics that many philosophers expect from the phenomenon of knowledge of the (...) mind. (shrink)